Well, the QB situation could be worse - right?

Kyle Boller wasn't in the locker room at the Castle early yesterday afternoon, not surprising because he likely had not known for long that his season, and probably his Ravens career, was over. Troy Smith wasn't in the locker room, largely because he isn't close to returning to practice. Todd Bouman wasn't in the locker room at that point, probably because he had barely been an official member of the team for more than a few hours, if that.

The only quarterback around was Joe Flacco, who three months ago was finishing up classes at Delaware and who has about six quarters of NFL preseason football on his resume - but who yesterday afternoon was the dean of Ravens signal callers.


Go find a more convoluted, twisted, bizarre quarterback situation going into the regular-season opener anywhere else in the NFL. I dare you. Find a crazier one going into any previous Ravens season. Find a crazier one going into any previous NFL team's season.

OK. None of the Ravens' quarterbacks is going to prison for dogfighting. And none of them is Joey Harrington. There's your 2008 Ravens slogan: We're better off than the '07 Falcons.


Yet those Falcons at least knew who would be in uniform four days before the opener. Yesterday morning broke with everybody waiting on Bouman - no disrespect intended to a man who has survived 11 seasons as an NFL quarterback, but it probably has been awhile since Bouman has had everybody in town waiting on him.

Generally, a rookie quarterback wins the starting job through competition, not because he's the last one standing on the Wednesday before the opener, much less also the last one as far back as Week 3 of the preseason. Flacco would have been the last one standing in Week 4, too, had Casey Bramlet's flight been delayed last week. So add that to the unprecedented upheaval.

We didn't know it, but we were so spoiled when the choice was among Boller, Smith and Flacco. Until yesterday morning, it was between Flacco and running the single wing.

"Strangest quarterback situation I've ever seen," Mark Clayton said. That means a lot coming from a wide receiver who was listed as the emergency quarterback several times the past two seasons.

It seems about that odd to Todd Heap, and only three Ravens have been here longer than his eight seasons.

"Yeah, the carousel," Heap said. "It's been different, just because so many guys have been thrown in the mix and we haven't known who is the guy. There hasn't been one guy who we've known from the beginning, until this week.

"But at the same time," he added, "we know who's starting now, and we're all behind him."

Eventually, though, Smith will return and the carousel will start again. Yet the fact that no one knows when that will be is itself another oddity. Injury is almost easy to account for; illness, not so much. Unlike if he were dealing with a pulled muscle or torn ligament, Smith's timetable is as indefinite as it gets.


He still deserves a chance to pick up where he left off, and you can imagine coach John Harbaugh pulling his hair out if Flacco is playing well when Smith does come back.

But having that to worry about will be a luxury. Sweating over two potential starting quarterbacks beats hoping you'll eventually have two who know which player to line up behind.

And, as at least one previous NFL team has taught us, it beats having one quarterback wearing an orange jumpsuit. So the Ravens have that going for them.

Listen to David Steele on Wednesdays at 9 a.m. on WNST (1570 AM).